Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category.

Check out: Song Exploder, the podcast

My friend Hrishikesh Hirway (who composed the Machine of Death theme music and makes music as The One AM Radio) has a new podcast called Song Exploder, in which “musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.” It’s the newest addition to Jesse Thorn’s Maximum Fun network, and it’s super great.

You can listen to the episodes on SoundCloud, or subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or they even have an internet http web-site!

Better Olympic Narratives

Like lots of you perhaps, I’m watching bits of the Olympics, and it’s interesting to watch how the same basic narratives are played over and over in an attempt to add drama to the sports. Fundamentally, the Olympics is about world-class athletes competing with one another, so of course they’re all going to be dedicated, and the pride of their country.


i like twitter, twitter can be fun

Wondermark #1000 – Made with the help of the British Library

As I mentioned a while ago, the British Library has released a Flickr set of some ninety gazillion images from their collection of public domain books! There’s a ton of great stuff in there.

For Wondermark strip #1000, “A Terror Far Greater”, I thought it’d be fun to trawl the library’s set of images and make the comic entirely from stuff I found there. The scans (or perhaps they are photos) are of a decent resolution, although quite a bit smaller than what I normally work at — when it comes time to put this one in a book, we’ll see how crisp it turns out, but it works fine for the web. Using Photoshop, I am also able to firm up some of the softer lines.

(Click any image for bigger)

Here are the images I used for the first panel — the man’s body, the side of the house, the background garden, and the gun. (The Piranhamoose is already well-known to us.) The man’s face is from a different image (below)…

Both of the faces are from different sources, as is the cart. The original faces in the environment shot were just too wacky-looking to use without modification.

The man’s “hammering” pose comes from a different shot, as does the woman. In 19th-century European magazines, there are not a lot of dignified portrayals of individuals of color, so one that’s not overtly racist or caricatured is a nice find. The wall he’s working on comes from here, and in the picture above you can also see a different background (from here) that I didn’t end up using, in favor of keeping it consistent from Panel 1.

The rest of the panels are made from images of a stone tower, of the Pyramids (for the close-up in the panel with the hand), of a sunset, and of course of a bird.

I went through 100 pages of the Flickr set and found lots of great stuff but no sharks, so he had to come from my regular archive. The hammer was also an addition from a non-Flickr source (it came instead from the 1902 Sears-Roebuck catalog) (and even still, it ended up being more of a mallet).

Still, thanks to the British Library for this amazing resource! There’s probably a shark in there SOMEWHERE on pages 101 through 10200. I’ll find it eventually!!

When I first started throwing these comics together on a lark 11 years ago, I think I labeled them “01”, “02”, “03”, etc. When I put the first 20 or so on a very rudimentary website, I optimistically renumbered them “001”, “002”, etc. Well, NOW WE’VE BROKEN THAT FORMAT.

The last 11 years have been wonderful and I’m so grateful to be able to do what I do for a living; it’s the best job in the world and anyone else who says THEY have the best job in the world is CLEARLY MISTAKEN.

Thank you for all the support, the kind notes, and the moments when you think “You know what would be cool? If I shared my favorite strip with a friend who might like it!” This is a very easy thing to do that makes YOU look cool and makes ME look AMAZING because you probably won’t share one of the clunkers rattling around deep in the bottom of the archives, but rather a sort of MODERN CLASSIC, such as this one or this one or this one.

Now I guess there’s nothing more to do except start counting back down to 001! See you all in 2025 when we can start going back up again!!

Check out: The Naughty Victorian Hand Book

One of my wife’s co-workers sent this book home with her, saying “This looks like the sort of thing David would like.” And WOW, was he correct. This book is INCREDIBLE.

It’s The Naughty Victorian Hand Book; or, Furtling: The Rediscovered Art of Erotic Hand Manipulation by New Zealand artists Jeremy Bennett and Burton Silver. Bennett is responsible for the many absolutely wonderful illustrations throughout the book — they’re created with a scratchboard technique that mimics incredibly the Victorian-era woodcut style. Silver is the author of quite a few humor books, including two that I already have on my shelf: Why Cats Paint and its sequel, Why Paint Cats.

(Click any image for a closer look.)

The premise of The Naughty Victorian Hand Book is simple. The introduction describes the lost practice of “furtling”, explaining:

To study the art of erotic hand manipulation is to start out on a wonderful journey of discovery, a journey that leads into a world of secret folds and furrows…

For no matter whether this work was billed as a “medicinal contrivance for the diminished urge” or simply as a harmless parlour-game, the prudish Victorian mind would have intuitively grasped the contagious nature of the underlying message…As you will find, these engravings have lost none of their power to excite and provoke.

They induce powerful statements of tactile value where the reader is encouraged to delight in the sensation of touch — as if the body were in miniature and the finger tip the caressing palm.

Every part of the book includes various cut-out sections, where the reader can place his or her hand physically under the page to fill out the illustration.

For example, on a given page, there will be a diagram showing exactly how to place your hand — you turn two pages, and place your hand underneath both in the configuration pictured.

Then, you lift up the top page to reveal the illustration that, with the addition of your hand, has become INCREDIBLY NAUGHTY.

This book is amazing. It’s a one-note joke, but it’s so elaborately done and so wonderfully done that it’s absolutely worth it. I’ve never seen a book quite like it.

Anyone who’s read my any of my books knows that I like to include mechanics in them that respect the physicality of the book as artifact — whether it’s having to repeatedly rotate The Annotated Wondermark, or hold pages in Beards of our Forefathers up to the light, or match up pages in Clever Tricks to Stave Off Death to create recipes for medicine — I love the idea of the book as thing, an item that’s not just a sum of words and pictures but actually something that gains power from having physical mass and occupying a specific space in the world.

Also I can’t stop giggling at it.

This book was released in Great Britain and the US in 1989, but is now long out of print. Over the last few months I’ve been keeping an eye out for copies in any used bookstores I visit, and also snapping them up when I come across them online. A few of you have seen me show it off at conventions — it’s the only product I’ve ever sold that’s not my own work! But it fits so well with the Wondermark aesthetic and sense of humor that I almost feel it’s my duty to give this now 25-year-old book whatever second life I can.

If you’re as tickled by this as I am, you can find used copies on Amazon or in other used bookstores (not around me, though!).

Or, right now I’ve got 19 copies of my own that I’m happy to offer. Mine are all used copies (as Amazon’s would be), and as such are slightly worn or may feature strange stickers — but not in any way that impedes the reading experience. UPDATE: All my copies are gone! If I obtain more in the future I will be sure to say so loudly!

Plus, if you order from me you also get a handwritten thank-you from Piranhamoose! YOUR MOVE, AMAZON.

The only difference between the British and American versions of the book is the cover design (I’ve got some of each). If you get a copy from me, I’ll send you one or the other randomly.

With Valentine’s Day coming up (and of course I still have Valentine cards for sale too!) this would make the perfect gift for the weirdo in your life!

The Naughty Victorian Hand Book:
on Amazon or available direct from me.
Update: I’ve sold all my copies for now!

…by the way, this whole post is NSFWV (Not Safe For Wilting Victorians)

Ryan North and I are having a BOOKWAR

It started here. In the words of Ryan North:

You probably read about my amazing friend Chip’s amazing relationship with an amazing Applebee’s. If not, do so. It is amazing; that is the word that I think applies to it, if I had to choose one.

Last week my friends and I were talking about this incredibly-awful “how to go viral” article someone wrote about the story (first line: “Going Viral is the number one aspiration of everyone and their next door neighbor”). “This is how the world ends,” I said.
Around the same time I got an email from a friend, Andrew Pickles, who wanted to take some photos of me as a new subject, rather than the ones he normally uses. I said sure! One of the photos we took was this one:

I made it my Facebook profile picture and David Malki (comics creator, FORMER FRIEND) somehow got ahold of it and turned it into this:

That first shot was fired (by me, I admit) about a week ago and OH MY, we DID NOT REALIZE what we were unleashing.

The war is currently raging on my Tumblr and Ryan’s Tumblr, and we have collected all the volleys to date — with nice big pictures of everything — at: BOOKWAR.TUMBLR.COM